Planes, trains and the politics of transport

Impression of Thames Hub from the east Image copyright presser
Image caption Plans for a Thames Estuary airport may have prompted Kent County Council to stall over a rail takeover

With the meeting of London Assembly's Transport Committee comes another reminder of how local politics can play out and influence infrastructure decisions.

During a session of the devolution of the railways, it emerged Kent County Council had taken a rather dim view of the mayor's plan for a Thames Estuary airport dubbed 'Boris Island'.

But not only did it take a dim view, it exacted revenge on the mayor by ensuring his plans for a takeover of Southeastern suburban rail services didn't get off the ground.

Talk of a takeover stalled and Transport for London (TfL) has had to make do (for now) with operating West Anglia services.

So one aspiration for new infrastructure, adversely affected another.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Commuters may not be pleased to hear London Bridge remains "vulnerable" to delays and problems

Another interesting point made by London Travelwatch at today's meeting is that the takeover of West Anglia will be a big test for TfL as it absorbs routes from Liverpool Street to north-east London into its network.

Unlike its takeover of Silverlink, to create London Overground, this time there will not be huge infrastructure investment.

That means there will be challenges for TfL to improve the service significantly. And more takeovers of suburban services will probably be dependent on TfL turning West Anglia around.

Meanwhile the train companies got another tongue lashing in front of the assembly.

Southeastern and South West Trains seemed genuine in their attempts to improve their services.

However, belief in them was described as being "at an all-time low" and communication was described as "appalling".

And commuters who use London Bridge will not be pleased by the honesty of Network Rail who said "if there is work going on at London Bridge... there will always be a vulnerability".

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